Title: Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F
Price: about $79.90
System(s): PS Vita, eventually PS3
Release Date: August 30, 2012
Publisher (Developer): Sega (Sega)
ESRB Rating: N/A, Cero C for Ages 15 and Up
Pros: 32 playable songs, lots of different modules (costumes) for the Vocaloids, four difficulty levels, can import your mp3s to make your own music videos and song patterns in Edit Mode, the six main Vocaloids are present, you can decorate the Vocaloids’ rooms, you can befriend the Vocaloids and play rock-paper-scissors with them. The AI mode has some songs from previous Hatsune Miku: Project Diva games and lets you take pictures of the Vocaloids in the real world. Very easy to play, even if you can’t read Japanese.
Cons: Can be difficult to swipe during more challenging songs. Some songs, like “Nyanyanyanyanyanyanya!” aren’t all that good. Neru Akita and Haku Yowane are DLC characters. Rock-paper-scissors mini-game drags on too long.
Overall Score: 9 out of 10
When the first Hatsune Miku: Project Diva game was released way back in 2009, people weren’t quite sure what would come of the Vocaloid video game. Yes, Miku Hatsune is a cultural icon in Japan, but who knew if that success could transfer over to a game. Clearly, there was no issue as it became a rousing success and hit for Sega and the ensuing series provided sales boosts to any platform upon which it was released. It’s only natural that Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F would carry on the tradition of a strong music video game with even more customization options. It’s no wonder this is one of the best selling Vita games in Japan, as it’s well made and packed with infectious tunes that even people who have never heard of Miku Hatsune can’t resist.
“What? Oh, yeah.”
If you’ve experienced any Hatsune Miku: Project Diva game before, or even any music game in general, playing Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F will be like second nature to you. When you head to the music section, you choose a difficulty level then highlight a song. From there, you can change the starting Vocaloid and his or her outfit or just jump in and start playing. As the song plays and Miku and/or the other Vocaloids perform in the background, indicators will appear on-screen. On the easiest difficulty level, you’ll only have to press the circle button when the circle appears on-screen and rub when the star indicator appears. As the difficulty increases, the triangle, square and X button, as well as the arrows will be used. Technical and Chance time periods will appear during a song as well, and nailing each of those segments with perfect button presses will boost the score and even change the end of the music video.
In addition to the main music game, Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F has a minor virtual pet element in play. As you play through the songs, you unlock the Vocaloids, their Diva Rooms, new pieces of furniture and various gifts. Giving the Vocaloids gifts, as well as interacting with them and playing Rock-Paper-Scissors together, will allow you to befriend them. As various friendship levels are reached, new decorative items are unlocked for use in the rooms.
Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F also features a handful of Augmented Reality options. For example, the included sheet of paper can be used to have Miku appear in the room and perform “1/6 -out of gravity-,” “I’ll Make You Do the Miku Miku,” “Miracle Paint” and “World is Mine.” You can also make all of the Vocaloids strike poses so you can take a photo and make it seem like they’re in the real world.
The bulk of the Hatsune Miku: Project Diva experience revolves around mastering the 32 songs available across four difficulty levels. Performing them with various levels of accuracy unlock different kinds of bonuses, as well as the ability to play songs at higher difficulty levels or see music videos. The core gameplay of tapping buttons when they reach corresponding indicators hasn’t changed at all since previous entries, but that’s fine because it still works as well as it always had. The new swiping feature, however, can throw people off. When you see a star note appear, you have to place your finger on the screen and hold it there. Then, when the star indicators match up, you rub the screen. Even knowing that, it’s easy to forget when you’re going through a song like “Sadistic.Music∞Factory” on the Extreme difficulty level. It’s not that it’s bad or difficult, but it’s something one needs to grow accustomed to by playing other songs until you don’t think of swiping in any other way.
I mentioned earlier that the Diva Room feature is more like a virtual pet, and it’s true. You don’t have to worry about feeding the characters though. Instead, you just make their home look pretty, pat their head every once in a while to make them happy and give them various gifts. After playing with them a bit, they’ll want to play Jan-Ken-Pon (Rock-Paper-Scissors). You tap the screen to choose your selection. If you win, you slide up, down, left or right on the screen to guess where the Vocaloid will look. Guess correctly and you get one of the three points you need to win. If you don’t win the Rock-Paper-Scissors match, then you have to turn the Vita in one of the four directions and the Vocaloid guesses where you’re looking. It’s a neat extra in theory, but the mini-game drags on far too long and it’s easier to just buy extra presents for the characters in the shop to boost their friendship levels instead. Different presents can also unlock different little skits or interactions, which can be quite cute to watch.
As good as Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F is, it does have some quirks that may put off some players, but hardly bother others. The facial expressions of the Vocaloids are one. While they are more detailed, allowing for more happy, smug and even tearful moments, it’s also somewhat difficult to actually see these emotions. It’s something about the facial models. If you sit back, watch the music video and look for them, you’ll catch it. If you don’t, you can miss the finer details. It’s easier to see on some songs than others. Which leads me to the song list. With the exception of “Nyanyanyanyanyanyanya!” (the Nyan Cat song) and “Dye”, I think it’s the strongest Project Diva tracklist yet and offers a wide variety of solo songs, duets and even group numbers. Others may disagree, mainly because Vocaloid music is hit-or-miss.
The biggest qualm stems from the exclusion of two characters. The fan-made vocaloids Neru Akita and Haku Yowane, which have been included in every Project Diva game to-date, aren’t here. Sega decided to make them DLC, alongside newcomer Teto Kasane. It’s a disappointing move, especially for importers. Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F is region-free so anyone can play and enjoy it, but Sony has that horrible PS Vita system in place that requires you to only use one account on it and reformat the system and memory cards if you switch. It’s too much of a hassle to switch accounts for a few bits of DLC.
Speaking of region-free, Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F is the perfect game to import. It’s all in Japan, yes, but there are icons throughout the main menus to help people understand what each relates to and there are plenty of guides online to help people figure out what to to and how to act, even if you don’t know the difference between katakana and hirigana. Not to mention the music game and virtual pet portions require zero effort to understand. The only system that does require the ability to read and know what’s going on is the custom song creation with your mp3s, and I prefer to think of that as a bonus feature.
“Continuation of Dreams”
Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F is a solid music game and is everything anyone familiar with the series expected. You ahve a substantial tracklist that’s filled with more good songs than bad, you can import your own music to make your own videos and song challenges, you can play dress-up with and befriend the characters and naturally it all looks and plays better than previous installments. You can’t go wrong with Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F and it’s a perfect addition to the Vita’s game library. Granted, it would be nice if the facial animations were a bit more detailed and the Miku derivatives Neru and Haku had been included in the game, but these are minor drawbacks and their absence doesn’t have a detrimental effect on the game as a whole. Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F is absolutely worth importing and might just be the first “must import” Vita game.
COMING NEXT TIME: Important Importables looks at Bravely Default: Flying Fairy.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Last week Important Importables offered a checklist to help you determine if you’re ready to import games from Japan.